by Max Erikson
The Edmonds School Board wrapped up the 2018-2019 school year on June 25 after a difficult last two months as the board struggled to find funding that would allow it to retain teachers that will be let go, because of a budget shortfall, for the upcoming 2019-2020 school year.
Meadowdale High School drama students continued their petition to the board about finding a way to keep drama teacher Katie Powell-Mitchell on the payroll saying Powell-Mitchell has been an incredible inspiration to them and has built an incredible theater program that gives students an opportunity to express themselves and find a purpose in their education.
Superintendent Dr. Kris McDuffy was sympathetic to the concerns of the students and said it was still a work in progress but not much has changed at this point.
“Retirements are down half of what they normally would be this year and it is complex on how things are funded,” McDuffy said. “We are continuing to monitor the situation.”
On a brighter note for the school district, the board welcomed Edmonds School District (ESD) students who were the participants in a career and job skills training program sponsored by Swedish Edmonds called Project SEARCH.
Project SEARCH is a program that addresses the unemployment challenges students with learning differences face when finding a job. It is an internship program directed through Swedish Edmonds Hospital, the school district and other community partners. The goal is to have 100 percent of students with learning challenges graduate with a job waiting for them.
Seven students gave a presentation to the board about their experiences interning at Swedish Edmonds through Project SEARCH and the work skills they attained in landscape maintenance, working at check-in desks and the gift shop and also in the Volunteer Services department.
Those students are:
- Cary Bucsit
- Bobby Anderson
- Parker Gougeon
- Tony Peckenpaugh-Taie
- Andrew Hong
- Cameron Mason
- David Buckingham
Prior to its regular business meeting on June 25, the board held a work session that focused on the long-term goals for the school district that will set and implement goals to be attained by the district in a working document called Blueprint 2025. The achievement of these goals will be measured yearly until 2025.
ESD started Blueprint 2025 in the fall of 2018 to develop a community-driven strategic plan to guide and measure the districts achievements. It is designed to have more specific goals and to be shaped by the community. The work session focus on reviewing feedback from teachers and the community about some of the ideas that the school district wants to implement over the next five years.
One of the targets the school district has for 2025 is for 80 percent of students to enroll in a university or career technical school after graduation. It also targets increasing graduation rates and to increase the number of students who earn college credit, industry certification, and work-based credit to 100 percent by 2025.
Blueprint 2025 also addresses the challenge of having a higher number of students meeting state testing standards with the hope of an annual 10 percent increase. It also emphasizes reducing barriers to low income students and will attempt to increase hiring of people of color in teaching and administrative positions.
Blueprint 2025 is still a work in progress and no finalized version has been set. The board is still assessing feedback and how it will be implementing strategies that will achieve some of these goals. The plan will not be finalized until August 2019.